When you live in China one day you know that you will face one of the many scams in China….
After 9 hours of travelling involving two trains and a rush for the last bus that resembled a pro-wrestling fight ( pretty standard in golden week) we finally had made it to our first destination and a celebratory dinner was in order. Only one problem: in China everyone eats early and all the food stalls in the market were packing away. However, there was one stall left manned by an elderly couple who waved us to sit down and helpfully suggested which produce to pick so they could produce meals with. A short while later some bugs, giblets and egg plant dishes arrived at the table and were described as hao chi ( tasty) leaving us very full and satisfied until the bill came.
The bill was priced higher than an average standard British restaurant would charge- definitely not a China price or more accurately a Chinese street food price. With not enough Chinese to explain that this was not a reasonable and could we have the actual price we were left with the option of paying for a meal that was costing more than our train travel for the trip or the option we choose in the end was to pay what we thought was a reasonable amount (and a small amount in addition). Although, the owner protested it was not the bill amount she did not stop us leaving which let us know we still paid more than the product/labour cost.
The reason we choose not to pay the bill price was after living in China for a few months we knew that the price was unreasonable. Often, travellers are targeted and given unfair prices. If travellers always give in it makes the sellers believe they can continue doing it. This often leaves a sour taste in travellers mouths and can give a negative impression of somewhere which could affect tourism leading to the truthful sellers suffering.
So the lesson of the day: always ask the price of everything before ordering the food. Sadly, despite learning this lesson for the rest of the trip there were countless other attempts at trying to scam the foreigners out of some more money: from giving us an English menu with inflated prices to charging different prices on the bill from the menu. Welcome to the many scams in China!